Sunday, 08 August 2010 18:25

Mexican music fans of every stripe are in mourning at the passing of two of the country's music giants. Internationally recognized singer/songwriter Roberto Cantoral and norteno pioneer Miguel Luna passed on two days ago.

Cantoral was famous for the classic boleros “El Reloj,” “la Barca, and “El Triste,” while Luna was one half of the seminal norteno duo El Palomo y el Gorrion which scored with standard hits such as "Ingratos ojos míos," "En toda la chapa" and "Elisa."

Cantoral, who was also the long running president of SACM , Mexico’s songwriters and composers group, died of

a heart attack in Mexico City at the age of 75.

According to officials Cantoral was on a commercial flight from Brownsville to Mexico City when he apparently suffered a heart attack.

According to family members, Cantoral has been chronically ill in the past two years.

El Universal reported that Cantoral is expected to be cremated and ashes may be scattered in his hometown of Tampico. Cantoral lived just outside of Brownsville in the town of Rancho Viejo.

Cantoral's home, which can be seen off the frontage U.S. Expressway 77/83, is landscaped with several statues and a giant marble clock in honor of his hit song, "El Reloj."

From the Latin Recording Academy:

"It is with great sadness that The Latin Recording Academy bids farewell to notable Mexican composer Roberto Cantoral. A recipient of The Latin Recording Academy Trustees Award in 2009, Mr. Cantoral not only distinguished himself as the composer of classic Mexican romantic songs such as "El Reloj," "La Barca," "El Triste," and "Al Final," but also for his work defending composer rights at the Mexican Society of Composers and Authors (SACM), of which he was honorary president for more than 25 years. He leaves behind a great legacy of music and many achievements on behalf of his guild and his fellow composers. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, his friends, the Mexican Society of Composers and the people of Mexico." Gabriel Abaroa, President & CEO, Latin Recording Academy

Meanwhile, norteno fans continue in mourning as one of the music’s founding fathers, Miguel Luna of El Palamo y El Gorrion (the Pigeon and the Sparrow), passed away Friday of a stroke.

Luna, who was 62, led his group with his brother Cirilo alongside other pioneers such as Los Alegres de Teran and Los Montaneses del Alamo in forging what became known as traditional norteno, a more folksy style than the modern, urban norteno outfits that would came later.

Luna and his brother began playing music at about 10 years old and maintained a 50-year career. It was a trajectory that would see them perform at the White House in addition to playing for three Mexican presidents.

Both Cantoral and El Palomo y El Gorrion are profiled in my 1999 reference book, “The Billboard Guide to Tejano and regional Mexican music,” on Billboard Books.